Credit: @plantbasedunisglasgow via Instagram

A Plant-Based University

By Katie McKay

Meet the campaign to tackle climate change through the promotion of sustainable catering at UofG.

Plant-Based Universities is an international campaign calling for universities to transition to 100% plant-based and sustainable catering in order to tackle the climate crisis. The campaign is entirely student-led and aims to reframe the mainstream environmental debate. Since its birth in late 2021, the campaign has already achieved an unprecedented level of success. Seven UK universities have voted to transition to fully plant-based catering, including the University of Stirling.

Much of our understanding of the climate crisis comes from universities, which are hugely influential in the research they produce. Plant-Based Universities believe that these institutions have a responsibility to act on these findings, as the science is clear – the climate crisis is unsolvable without a transition to sustainable plant-based food. 

The initiative is not to force every student into being a vegan – far from it. Plant-Based Universities believe that this is where a lot of the resistance to eco-friendly changes stems; when people feel aspects of their lives are being dictated to them. Instead, the campaign aims to make systematic changes and encourage universities to turn away from animal agriculture, the leading cause of environmental degradation. 

In May 2019, the University of Glasgow declared a Climate Emergency and committed to becoming Net Zero by 2035, stating the need to “engage the University community more effectively in this developing agenda.” While investment in fossil fuels remains a contentious topic regarding the veracity of the University’s green credentials, Plant-Based Universities would also like divestment from the animal agriculture industry, which would put UofG at the forefront of the fight against climate change.

The Glasgow branch of Plant-Based Universities has already had a significant impact on our campus since their launch in September. With close links to the GU Vegan Society, there have been several vegan bake sales outside the library, coffee mornings and various social media campaigns. Most notably, Plant-Based Universities have secured a meeting with Glasgow University Union this month to discuss a transition to 50% plant-based catering by August. If successful, this would mark the beginning of the University’s transition away from animal agriculture in order to lower their carbon footprint. Whether Glasgow follows in the footsteps of the seven universities, and transitions towards plant-based catering, is in the hands of the two Student Unions as well as University management. Plant-Based Universities’ peaceful campaigning methods aim to educate and persuade, and in order to ease the Climate Emergency, the University should see that is the moral thing to do. As Plant-Based Universities write, “As a community, we must act and students and staff should get behind this transition. It is our future on the line.”


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